The rum inspector
(Drawn during a 2002 freshman composition class taught by Dr. Mary Dalles.)
Pictured is Petty Officer Stuart Dandy, the chief rum inspector for the H.M.S. OldShipname. We know of Dandy through the logs of Captain William Sigh:
April 1, 1745
Near disaster today. Just before leaving port, we almost left without our chief rum inspector, Stuart Dandy! Bad batches of rum have been sickening sailors, he says. Spoiling the grog, putting sailors at peril. The admiral has been appointing rum experts to verify the safety of our supplies while out at sea. If the admiral thinks Dandy can keep us safe, then I’m sure we’re in good hands.
Dandy already has proven his worth. First barrel of grog tested positive for badbatchinitis! Dodged a bullet there.
Thank heavens for Dandy. He barely took a sip during rum testing yesterday, yet he looks as though he had the plague this morning. If he hadn’t taken it upon himself to quarantine that bad barrel in his private quarters, I can’t imagine what peril the crew would be in.
More bad rum! Dandy is a Godsend. The distillers are going to hear from me when we return, I swear it.
We approach the Caribbean, and not a moment too soon. Not only has our rum supply been hit hard by badbatchinitis, it seems to be affecting the cola, ice, and lime reserves, as well. My hope is that the tropics will be unaffected by this scourge.
Meanwhile, Dandy looks worse than ever. Yet he somehow manages to be one of the best card-players on the ship, the men say. His vigor inspires me.
We have made landfall. I tried to dump the rest of our rum supplies overboard out of an abundance of caution, but Dandy would have none of it. Says it holds our best chance at beating this affliction.
We set sail again, sans rum inspector. He volunteered to stay behind in the tropics with our spoiled supplies for further testing. He figures that with enough time, hard work, and luck, he can find a cure for this affliction. Plus the sunny weather and beaches provide the optimal conditions for testing.
I sometimes wonder how we could ever repay him. But something tells me his efforts provide him with all the satisfaction he needs.
Godspeed, rum inspector! Godspeed.